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Posts Tagged ‘Mary Berner’

Magazine Ad Page Decline Slows During Third Quarter

magazinesSometimes, you just have to celebrate when things go from bad to not-so-bad. Such is the case with magazine ad pages. According to PIB’s latest report, ad pages declined by only 1.8 percent during the third quarter, which is better than the drops in the first quarter (down 4.8 percent) and the second (down 4.5 percent).

The big winners of the third quarter were women’s titles, as many got a boost from their September issues. Glamour posted a 19.6 percent increase, Harper’s Bazaar jumped by 9.6 percent, and Cosmo’s ad pages went up by 7.5 percent.

Mary Berner, President and CEO of the Association of Magazine Media, summed things up by saying “This is an encouraging trend, with consistent advertising growth in magazine media across platforms.”

Now go ahead everyone, celebrate the not-so-terrible news. Just don’t drink too much. You have to work tomorrow.

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Al Roker, Barbara Bush and Peggy Siegal Fetes Elizabeth Olsen

1003_mockup.gifWe were disappointed to hear that we’d missed seeing Wendy Williams who’d come by on Monday for lunch with her parents. A little birdie told me that the talk show diva issued this rallying cry to mom and dad before departing to face the lone paparazzo waiting outside: “Get ready! Here we go! Here we go!”  Today the few shooters milling around outside had a little more to work with since starlet of the moment, Elizabeth Olsen, was being feted in the Garden Room. Meanwhile, the main event in the dining room featured its usual mix of moguls (Barry Diller, Ron Perelman),  talking heads (Al Roker) and high-profile editors (Jon Meacham). Just business as usual for Wednesday at Michael’s.

I was joined today by Good Housekeeping editor-in-chief Rosemary Ellis, the magazine’s new money columnist Carmen Wong Ulrich and Hearst’s executive director of public relations, Alexandra Carlin. With 24 million (yes, you read that right) readers, this is not your mother’s Good Housekeeping. With Ellis at the helm, GH is a must read for the multi-tasking, multifaceted woman (Is there any other kind?) and filled with smart, savvy content that covers everything from food and fashion to family and finances.  And, while many books have retooled their marketing message for a niche reader, Good Housekeeping is a media behemoth with some really impressive reach. “We’re not age specific. We have kazillions of 28-year-old readers and kazillions of 34-year-old readers,” says Ellis. “More than the magazines that target them.”  Rosemary, whose editor letters are often inspired by her own family life and her adorable daughter, Lucy (“I figure I have a few more years before she says no more”) says Good Housekeeping offers “one stop shopping  — Who has time to read seven different magazines?”

We all agreed that the one topic on every woman’s mind these days is money. It makes sense, says Rosemary, because 80 percent of all  spending decisions are made by the woman of the house. So, Rosemary tapped Carmen to dispense her unique brand of uncommon financial common sense culled from years of experience deciphering today’s often confusing and confounding financial landscape. “I live for this,” says Carmen, who first became interested in money through her father. “I’ve been watching stocks since I was eight.”

Carmen Wong Ulrich, Diane Clehane and Rosemary Ellis
Carmen Wong Ulrich, yours truly and Rosemary Ellis

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Cathie Black Resurfaces, Jann Wenner at Table One, and Dish from The Millionaire Matchmaker

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Despite the worst case of Gotham gridlock in months (Thanks, Mr. President), there were plenty of media heavy hitters (Jann Wenner, John Huey),  high-profile editors (Martha Nelson, Kate White) and a spin sister (Peggy Siegal) at Michael’s today. While the power lunch set was chewing over their next big deal between bites, I had a dishy lunch with Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger and my good friend, the network’s SVP of communications, Jennifer Geisser. If you’ve seen any part of Matchmaker, you know that Patti tells it like she sees it no matter what. “I’m a truth-teller; that’s it,” she told me after sharing some particularly searing commentary on some boldface names we all know. Sorry, but it’s off the record.

Fortunately, Patti did let loose over lunch and share her thoughts on her ‘overnight success’ — “Total bullshit. I worked my ass off for years,” she said. It certainly sounds that way. Before starting Millionaire’s Club International in 2000, she toiled in a number of positions ranging from garment center executive to astrologer before finally landing at Great Expectations, the country’s largest matchmaking service, running their Florida division and then as their director of marketing. Quickly realizing she had a knack for finding dates for just about everyone she met, she started her own firm and, she tells me, grossed $1 million the first year.

In 2001, she had a fateful meeting with Telepictures and pitched an idea for a reality show where one man would find love by ‘dating’ a group of women. Sounds familiar? Thanks to an inept agent at ICM (“He was terrible,” says Patti),  The Bachelor premiered without Patti’s involvement and went on to become TV ratings gold. Undeterred, Patti “cried for a night,” got a new agent and moved on. After a few other stops and starts involving, among others, Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest, Patti found a television home with Bravo in 2008 with The Millionaire Matchmaker and is currently in her fifth season of the show. Her dating pet peeves? Rude guys:  ”I want to teach young men some manners. They’ve got to learn to be gentlemen.” Scantily clad girls: “I always tell them ‘leave the Fredrick’s at home.’” And mothers who think their sons walk on water: “Jewish and Italian mothers are the worst. They think their sons are messiahs and expect everyone to treat them like one. It makes dating them impossible.”

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Cosmo‘s Kate White Celebrates The Sixes

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You’d never know we’re on the brink of the dog days of August from the jam packed scene at Michael’s today. While I did notice there was a bit more wine than usual being poured, it was clear from all the glad handing and table hopping that there was plenty of business getting done between bites.

I was thrilled when Kate White invited me to join her for a celebratory lunch to mark the publication of her latest book, The Sixes (HarperCollins) that hit bookstores yesterday. Besides holding down her day job as Cosmo‘s editrix, Kate has managed to crank out five mysteries featuring heroine Bailey Weggins (a sixth is due next March), a handful of self-help tomes (including 9 Secrets of Women Who Get Everything They Want) and now, the second of two thrillers. Her latest novel chronicles what happens when celebrity biographer Phoebe Hall uncovers a secret society while tracking down a killer in a small college town and is already garnering rave reviews. Kate, who writes mostly on weekends, says she’s wanted to write page-turners ever since spotting a Nancy Drew mystery in her grandmother’s library at age 10. “I loved her,” she says of the iconic young detective. “I knew that whatever that was, I wanted to do that.”

Kate rounded up a pretty impressive group of gals to join in on the celebration. First to arrive was chick lit queen Jane Green who has written a dozen books (Babyville is my personal favorite) at the head spinning rate of one per year. I nearly fainted when Jane mentioned what a busy summer she’s having ferrying around her six children to their various activities. The former journalist for The Daily Express in Britain says it’s her training as a newspaper reporter facing deadlines that’s enabled her to find the discipline to write books. “Anybody can start a book; it’s another thing entirely to finish one.” Indeed.

Rounding out the group were best selling author Shelia Weller whose latest, Girls Like Us, is in development at Sony Pictures, ESPN SportsCenter anchor Hannah Storm, actress Donna Hanover who most recently appeared as a real estate agent  in FX’s Louie, and Barbara Butcher, chief of staff and director of Forensic Science Training Program at the Office of The Chief Medical Examiner in Manhattan. While there was plenty of talk about books and writing, the group was completely transfixed by Barbara’s fascinating career as an investigator examining the dead at over 5,000 crime scenes . “I got a dissecting kit when I was 10 and my last name is ‘Butcher’ so this was kind of preordained,” Barbara quipped. Besides tackling the important tasks of identifying victims of 9/11 and the 2004 tsunami, Barbara has put her expertise to work consulting on shows like Law & Order and helping authors like Kate and Patricia Cornwall accurately depict their fictional crimes.  Spending a few hours with this crew has made me swear off procrastinating on that next book waiting to be written — or at least try to give up sleeping.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Kate White, Jane Green, Shelia Weller, Hannah Storm, Donna Hanover, Barbara Butcher and yours truly.

2.  My good pal, investigative journo Diane Dimond who tirelessly chronicled Casey Anthony’s trial for The Daily Beast with Judy Twersky (Nice to finally meet you!) and another gal pal I didn’t get to meet.

3. Terry Allen Kramer

4.  Christine Taylor with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn

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Will Reader’s Digest Association Sell Off Popular Food Website Allrecipes?

Earlier this week we reported that Mary Berner was stepping down as CEO of Reader’s Digest Association, and now Adweek is providing some potential backstory to this change.

The naming of CFO Tom Williams as Berner’s replacement prompted speculation that the company plans to sell off some of its assets, in particular, the highly popular food website Allrecipes.com, which RDA bought in 2006, prior to Berner’s arrival. This raises some eyebrows, because of just how well Allrecipes is doing:

Seattle-based Allrecipes has more than doubled its traffic in that time, becoming one of the biggest food sites on the Web. In March, monthly uniques approached 17 million, making Allrecipes the top food site, per comScore.

The word is that Berner “clashed” over this direction of the company with its new board. In the past, Berner has conceded Allrecipies was a “hot topic,” but has not stated that the company plans to sell it.

Mary Berner Departs Reader’s Digest Association

Min is reporting that Mary Berner is stepping down as Reader’s Digest Association’s CEO, and will be replaced by current CFO Tom Williams. Berner has been with RDA since 2007, and though the company went through bankruptcy under her leadership, she said in a statement that there are better days ahead.

Williams has been with RDA since 2009, and previously served as the CFO for Affinion Group and AT&T.

Kerry Kennedy & Jackie Author Come Face To Face

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— DIANE CLEHANE

Sometimes it seems as if all roads lead to Michael’s — well, at least on Wednesdays. Today, the planets aligned to bring together folks with some interesting six-degrees-of-separation connections. I was talking to ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong who introduced me to Greg Lawrence, author of Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (St. Martins). Greg interviewed over 125 writers and editors who worked with Jackie during her 19 years at Viking Press. (The excerpt that ran in Vanity Fair recently was dishy and full of colorful details of Jackie’s life as a working girl. The paperback edition comes out this summer.) Turns out Greg worked with Jackie on three books, including one with his former wife, ballerina Gelsey Kirkland. Their memoir, Dancing on My Grave, caused quite an uproar at the time for its revelations. “It was quite scandalous,” recalled Greg, smiling at the memory.

That got me thinking. Since Greg knew one of the most famous members of the Kennedy family pretty well, I asked if he thought Caroline Kennedy was really behind the campaign that got The History Channel to drop their plans to air The Kennedys mini-series. “Oh, definitely,” he told me. “Caroline is very sensitive about these things,  and since she has a documentary with ABC and a book with Hyperion planned on her own about Jackie, she was able to stop it.”

Before he could say more, Kerry Kennedy walked up to say hello to Joe (a longtime friend of the Kennedy family) unaware there was a journalist in her midst who had delved into the life of a Kennedy for fun and profit. When Joe introduced Kerry to Greg and told her about his book, I observed what appeared to be a cautiously cordial response. It must be surreal to see your relative on the cover of a book someone is holding only to find out the author of that book is the person you’re talking to, although I’m guessing  it’s not all that unusual if you’re a Kennedy.  We were saved from any further awkwardness when Henry Schleiff (who knows everyone) grabbed Kerry for a big hug and pulled her aside for a little chat.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Kerry Kennedy, presiding over a table of casually clad diners

2. Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer, having what looked to be a very intense conversation with uber agent Wayne Kabak

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong with director Susan Stroman, Ed Victor and his lovely wife, Carol

4. Hudson News CEO James S. Cohen with a doppelganger power lunch pal

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Reader’s Digest Association Might Have The Best Holiday Party Ever

The good folks at the Reader’s Digest Association have cause to celebrate this holiday season. After something of a rough period last year, the company is now poised to roll out a whole trove of new products in 2011. In addition, there’s a new editor at Every Day with Rachael Ray and allrecipes.com is moving forward with new initiatives.

In that spirit, and as a way of extending a special thank you to staffers, RDA CEO Mary Berner came up with “12 Ways of Thanking” at both the company’s new New York City headquarters and its office in White Plains. Yesterday, Berner and other executives at the company executives dressed as Santa’s elves and served treats like sweets, lottery tickets, and stocking stuffers after a breakfast courtesy of the Every Day with Rachael Ray test kitchen. Tomorrow, the celebration continues at the company’s Milwaukee office, where staffers will also enjoy massages, manicures, shoe shines, raffles, and Wii games.

Something to think about as you’re drinking watered-down cider, smiling blankly at the musical toe socks your office mate gifted you in the office Secret Santa exchange.



Google’s Real Time Search Falters|PBS Tracks Shows|Kim Kardashian Will Tweet For Money|Reader’s Digest Profiled|Conde Hacked

BayNewser: Google’s real time results were put to the test with the death of actress Brittany Murphy yesterday. But they didn’t fare so well.

FishbowlDC: For the first time ever, PBS has implemented a ratings system to track who is watching its shows.

PRNewser: Kim Kardashian can command $10,000 per tweet from sponsors. But does she disclose her sponsored tweets?

New York Times: An in-depth look at Reader’s Digest Association and the plans that CEO Mary Berner has for the struggling company in the New Year.

WWD: Conde Nast revealed that its computers had been hacked earlier this year, and content from December’s GQ was published online before the issue hit newsstands. The company is now suing the blog FashionZag, which Conde claims also stole pages from Vogue, Teen Vogue and Lucky.

Reader’s Digest Moves To NYC As Part of Restructuring Plan

rdjjjjj.jpgAfter filing for Chapter 11 this August, Reader’s Digest Association has been working on a restructuring plan to get itself out of debt. Some of this has been the unfortunate (but par for course) shuttering of titles, like Rick Warren‘s ill-fated The Purpose Driven Connection magazine.

Yesterday, editor-in-chief Peggy Northrop mentioned at the ASME luncheon that the Reader’s Digest brand would never again launch a magazine that wasn’t able to perform across different media platforms. And today, RDA continues its attempts to get back in the black, and no it doesn’t involve firing staffers. It looks like the company will be moving its staffers from its offices in Pleasantville, N.Y.

As Keith Kelly reported this morning:

“Some of the 600 employees based in [Pleasantville] will be relocated to White Plains, N.Y. But executive offices and Reader’s Digest magazine’s editorial will move to space at 750 Third Avenue that was recently vacated by S.I. Newhouse’s Condé Nast Publications.

So some editorial staffers will be going to White Plains while the corporate headquarters and other editorial staffers move to NYC to share in the same building as Condé Nast. (FishbowlNY previously reported that The Economist is also moving into that building in the second quarter of next year.) While it’s always terrible to have to pick up your life and move elsewhere for a job, relocating to New York isn’t the worst thing to happen to a magazine staff in the last, oh say, 24 hours. In terms of restructuring, this is one of the more positive moves we’ve seen in awhile, which it should be obvious by the very un-restructuring phrase in CEO Mary Berner‘s letter to the staffers, “Some of you will be excited by this change…”

Berner’s full memo to RDA staffers after the jump.

Previously: Reader’s Digest Files For Ch. 11

Read More: Reader’s Digest moving to NYCNew York Post

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